Slavery in the Old South

Excerpted from Charles Davidson, "The Confederate Battle Flag: A Symbol of Racism?" (

In Colossians 4:1, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." To say that slaves were mistreated in the Old South is to say that the most Christian group of people in the entire world, the so-called "Bible Belt," mistreated their servants and violated the commandments of Jesus their Lord. Anyone who says this is an accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ, which is not a very good position to take. We in the South are offended by such false accusations. Just the opposite is true. In the Old South there were numerous laws that protected servants from abuse, just as there are laws today that protect wives or children from abuse. But just because a few men abuse their wives and children does not make marriage or having children a cruel and hateful endeavor. The same is true for slavery. Of course, there were masters who violated the law and mistreated their servants, such as Union General William T. Sherman, who owned a number of slaves before the War and who was constantly in court facing charges for abusing them. That is what the laws were for, to stop Yankees like Sherman from mistreating their slaves. The incidence of abuse, rape, broken homes, and murder are one-hundred times greater today in the housing projects than they every were on the slave plantations in the Old South.

The truth is, that nowhere on the face of the earth, in all of history, were servants better treated or better loved than they were in the Old South by White, Black, Hispanic, and Indian slave owners. Yes, even Bla ' eks and Indians owned slaves in the Old South. While 7% of Southern Whites owned slaves, 2% of free Blacks in the South owned slaves. For example, in 1860, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that around 10,000 free Blacks owned some 60,000 Black slaves. It was a Black slave master, named Anthony Johnson, who sued and won his case in a Virginia court in 1653 that changed temporary servitude into lifetime servitude. Thus, this Black slave owner established permanent slavery in Virginia. Moreover, when the Cherokee Indians were removed by the U.S. Government along the "Trail of Tears" out West, nearly 30% of the people removed were Black slaves of the Cherokees. Just as White European slaves were primitive, barbaric pagans who practices human sacrifice, incest, witchcraft, and idolatry, yet were converted to Christianity, learned trades and skills and became a civilized people under Black, Oriental, and White masters, so also did Black African barbaric pagans become civilized Christians with skills and trades under slavery in the Old South.

Slavery was a family institution in the Old South, just as is stated in Galatians 4:1: "Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all." A typical family plantation had one family of Whites living next door to one family of Blacks. They had the same last name, worked in the same fields side by side, played together, prayed together, raised each other's children, took care of each other in sickness, and all in all, loved one another, just like family. It was at these small family farms that Southern Blacks were taught about and converted to Christianity by the millions. It is to be sure that those converted Black Southerners are most grateful today, just as our White European ancestors are grateful for their conversion to Christianity while slaves to Black masters in northern Africa, such as the Black Coptic Christians in Egypt, one of the oldest Christian groups in the world. Remember, it was not from Yankees that the Southern Blacks learned about Jesus Christ; for the most part, it was from Southern slave owners.

It was here, on the family plantation, that Blacks learned trades and skills such as farming, saw milling, carpentry, and even driving steamboats and railroad trains. Even the Abolitionist Yankee government's Department of Education admitted in 1892, after the total failure of the "Reconstruction Experiment," that the best technical education that the world had ever seen, was the education that was given to the slaves by their masters before their emancipation.

It should also be remembered that the Blacks from Nigeria, the most populous region in Africa, were not civilized and not Christian, practicing voodoo, cannibalism, and witchcraft, just as the White Europeans did. These Blacks were captured in tribal wars by other Blacks in Nigeria. White people did not run through the jungles of Africa kidnapping Blacks and making them slaves. Black Africans captured and sold other Blacks as slaves; they were already slaves before they ever set foot on a Spanish, Portuguese, English, or New England Yankee slave ship. Such ships stayed anchored off shore for fear of jungle diseases and the slaves were rowed out in long boats by Africans and put on board. Many of these slaves were already riddled with disease and half-starved.

All slave ships from the United States sailed from the Northern states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware under the United States flag. Not one Southern ship sailed to Africa to bring back slaves. This slave trading was the big business of the rich New England Yankees. They traded rum made in Northern factories to Black African slave owners for their slaves and then traded most of the slaves to South America or the West Indies for molasses, and then manufactured the molasses into rum and made another trip. Only 5% of the African slaves ever reached the United States, and with rare exception, the life of a slave in the United States was ten times better than his life had been as a slave in Africa.